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Two Headaches In Search Of A Cure


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Tom Segev is one of Israel’s more distasteful post-Zionists, which is saying a lot, considering their generally unappetizing nature. His newest book, 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East, is as one-sided and tendentious a work as one would expect from Segev, a columnist for Haaretz whose stock-in-trade is books blaming Israel and Zionism for every conceivable ill in the Middle East.

One of the better reviews of 1967 appears in the current issue of The New Republic (July 23 cover date), and what makes it all the more effective is that it’s written by Benny Morris, a professor of Middle East history at Ben-Gurion University and one of the original group of scholars first tagged as “post-Zionists” two decades ago. Morris has had some second thoughts in recent years, but the ferocity with which he goes after Segev is still astounding – and thoroughly enjoyable.

“In Segev’s view,” writes Morris, “to understand the Six Day War one needs to understand more than the ‘diplomatic and military background. What is needed is deep knowledge of the Israelis themselves.’

“Not of the Arabs – of Nasser and his generals, who sent in their tank divisions and closed the straits in defiance of the agreements of 1956-1957; or of the Jordanians, who ignored Israeli appeals on the morning of June 5 not to open fire or, later, to stop firing artillery into downtown West Jerusalem, the suburbs of Tel Aviv, and the Ramat David air base in lower Galilee (the IDF began responding only at around noon, after Jordanian troops stormed the U.N. headquarters compound in southern Jerusalem); or of the Syrians, who rained down shells on Israel’s Jordan Valley settlements starting on the evening of June 5….

“No, there is no need to look at or understand Nasser, Hussein, or the Syrian leadership – or the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who took to the streets of Cairo, East Jerusalem, Damascus, and Baghdad shouting ‘Idhbah al Yahud!’, ‘Slaughter the Jews!’

“For Segev, Arab politics and Arab society have no bearing upon the proper understanding of the origins of the war. In 1967, the Arabs are mere props – mindless, thoughtless, motiveless extras, and in no meaningful sense historical agents….”

In sum, says Morris, “Segev’s 1967 is studded with such politically correct posturing, and riddled with perverse and high-minded asides and aphorisms.… [H]is book points readers and scholars in no worthwhile direction. Its argument is not merely wrong; it also makes a small contribution of its own to the contemporary delegitimation of Israel.”

* * *

Back in 2002 the Monitor strongly criticized Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s record on military and intelligence matters. Nadler wrote an indignant letter to the editor attempting to defend his record, and the Monitor answered point by point. (The whole business – the Monitor’s original column, Nadler’s response and the Monitor’s defense – can be viewed at The Jewish Press Blog, www.thejewishpress.blogspot.com.)

And so it was with more than a minimal amount of interest that the Monitor read the following, from the editors of the New York Post in that paper’s July 16 issue:

On June 26, Bradford Berenson, a former White House aide, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on whether suspected-terrorist detainees should have habeas-corpus rights.In one exchange, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) lectured: “I don’t see how you can pick up someone in New York and say that his rights are different or less because he’s accused of being an enemy combatant, based on whatever information, as opposed to his being accused of being a murderer …”

Berenson replied: “We need to be clear about what that means. It means that if we had captured Mohammed Atta on September 10th, we would have had no choice but to treat him as a criminal defendant –”

Nadler (interjecting): “Exactly right.”

Berenson: “– which would have meant no interrogation –”

Nadler (interjecting): “Exactly right.”

Berenson: “– no intelligence, and the World Trade Center is coming down.”

Nadler: “That’s exactly right. And when we captured mass murderers in the United States, we did exactly the same. We captured Charles Manson, we did the same.”

Nadler’s district includes Ground Zero.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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